From the automotive and medical sectors to the defense and aerospace industries, CNC machines are found everywhere in the manufacturing world. This magic of a machine is designed to build highly-precise parts from a variety of materials including wood, plastic, and metal.
Knowing how a CNC machine functions and what it is composed of will help you get the most out of this power equipment.
In this brief post, we will walk through the practical definition of CNC machining and discuss its various components.
A CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine is a manufacturing device that uses pre-programmed data to dictate the movements of various machine tools.
Most CNC machines like mills and lathes work on the same pattern. A CAD model is uploaded into the machine and translated into a G-code. This code helps the machine read important information and perform various actions like cutting and shaping.
Typically, tools of various shapes and sizes are used to cut the block of raw material. Many CNC machines are equipped with features like tool switches to provide extremely precise results.
Since the machine uses computerized controls to draw parts, the results are incredibly accurate and reliable.
A CNC machine is a complex structure that is made up of various parts and components. No matter where the machine is employed, the basic components of the device are pretty much the same everywhere.
With its internal system, a CNC machine is composed of the following key parts:
As the name suggests, the input device for a CNC machine works like an input feeder. It is how a CNC machine receives instructions. The most common types of input devices include:
Punch tape readers
Magnetic tape readers
2. Machine Control Unit
The machine control unit or MCU is the heart of a CNC machine, as it controls all the primary operations. It is one of the most important components of the equipment that reads the G-code received from the input device and translates it into desired machining actions.
MCU is typically responsible for controlling all the main machine operations including:
Changers and coolant activation
Initiating tasks and stopping movements
Controlling the position of the tools once the movement is completed
Managing the feed rate
3. Machine Tools
A machine tool can be any CNC machining part that performs desired actions on a workpiece. Machine tools are usually cutting tools that can be stationary or moving–depending on the type of workpiece or CNC machine.
CNC lathes, for instance, use stationary cutting tools to draw shapes into the moving raw material. CNC mills, on the other hand, employ spinning or moving cutting tools to shape the stationary raw material into desired parts.
Moreover, more complex CNC equipment can employ both moving and stationary cutting tools to carry out desired shaping operations.
4. Driving System
The driving system in a CNC machine works to control tool movements across the machine axes. This part of the equipment is composed of three main components with different functions:
Servo motors are responsible for the precise movement of ball screws while the linear guides ensure accurate movement of the spindle and bed.
5. Feedback System
The feedback system in a CNC machine is composed of parts like linear and rotary encoders, motion transducers, or probing tools. The function of this component is to record the movement and position of the cutting tool and signal the machine control unit to fix the alignment if needed.
6. Display Unit
A display unit is a monitor or screen displaying important information to the machine operator. This information can include:
Current machine operating status
The bed in CNC equipment is a holding table where the raw material is kept. This part of the machine is usually made of cast iron and has embedded holes and t-slots.
Chuck is a holding component that grips the raw material while it is being cut or shaped. This part of the CNC machine is located on the main spindle and contains three to four actuated grips.
The purpose of the chuck is to enable eccentric cutting while controlling any variation in the raw material.
Headstock is mainly found in CNC lathes and its main function is to hold the workpiece while it is being machined. Typically, the headstock contains these three components:
The tailstock provides additional support to the workpiece. While the chuck holds one side of the workpieces during rotation, the tailstock is responsible for axially supporting the other side.
This component is very important to keep the workpiece accurately positioned, so it does not deflect away due to the cutting forces.
Foot pedals are present in CNC machines to open and close the chuck. This component allows the machine operator to easily load workpieces and unload finished parts from the equipment.
12. Control panel
The control panel allows the operator to interact with the CNC machine. This part of the machine consists of the input device, the display unit, and the keyboard
Typically, the control panel is mounted on an extendable arm, allowing the operator to move the screen freely and conveniently.
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